Swimming with Libeskind

Westside, Libeskind's shopping mall outside of Berne, SwitzerlandFor enthusiasts of the Jewish Museum, excursions to other Libeskind buildings are imperative. Many are thematically related to the JMB, such as the Felix-Nussbaum-Haus in Osnabrück or the Jewish Museum in San Francisco. But equally worthwhile are the buildings designed for entirely other purposes, such as Westside, a suburban shopping mall completed in 2008 over a highway outside of Berne, Switzerland.

Westside's inscriptionThe mall – despite, well, being a mall – shares many features with the Jewish Museum, which was Libeskind’s first building project. The well-trained, or perhaps overly-trained, eye may involuntarily pick up on architectural testimonies to German-Jewish history.  continue reading

Constantin Brunner in Context

Constantin Brunner (1862–1937) is one of the philosophical authors whose work remains to be discovered. Constantin Brunner sitting at his deskOn the occasion of his 150th birthday and the 75th anniversary of his death, the Jewish Museum hosted a conference that traced the whole range of his thought and personality.

The German Jewish philosopher, pen-named Brunner while originally named Leo Wertheimer, was born in Altona outside of Hamburg. He studied religion, philosophy, and history in Cologne, Berlin, and Freiburg, and subsequently lived and worked in Hamburg as an editor and writer, until devoting himself to the development of his own philosophical system, starting in 1895 in Berlin and then from 1913 in Potsdam.  continue reading

David Hockney visits R.B. Kitaj’s “Obsessions”

Painting by Kitaj with David Hockney and a pink flower

R.B. Kitaj, The Neo Cubist, 1976-1987 © R.B. Kitaj Estate, Astrup Fearnley Collection, Oslo, Norway

On the 19th of October, just past 8 pm, I received the message “David is breaking away from his installation in Köln and will arrive at the Jewish Museum on Sunday 21st. between 11. – 11.30 am.”

Some time before, I had contacted the gallerist Peter Goulds to ask whether David Hockney might be interested in coming to Berlin to visit the R.B. Kitaj exhibition; I knew Hockney would be in Cologne to open his own exhibit “A Bigger Picture” at the Museum Ludwig. Though it seemed unlikely at first, Hockney was able to come. He brought his partner, his studio manager, and a chauffer, and appeared wearing an elegant grey double-breasted suit, a black Hawaii shirt with fantastic plants on it and a checked flat cap.

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